Monday, October 3, 2016

Happy Thomson-Winfield Day!

Notice that Jackie Robinson is making sure
that Thomson touches home plate.
Was he thinking of the Fred Merkle incident
on the same site in 1908?

October 3, 1951, 65 years ago today: Bobby Thomson hits a home run that wins the National League Pennant for the New York Giants, 5-4 over the Brooklyn Dodgers, at the Polo Grounds in Upper Manhattan.

Now it is done. Now the story ends. And there is no way to tell it. The art of fiction is dead. Reality has strangled invention. Only the utterly impossible, the inexpressibly fantastic, can ever be plausible again.
-- Red Smith, in the next day's New York Herald Tribune. If Red wasn't the greatest sportswriter ever, this paragraph certainly shows why he's a contender for the title.

Thomson died on August 16, 2010, at age 86. The home run ended the most amazing Pennant race that New York City, perhaps any city, has ever seen.

The pitcher who gave up the home run, Ralph Branca, is now 90, and recently wrote a memoir, A Moment In Time. In spite of the scorn he's received for giving up that home run, he admits he's had a pretty good life.

For this worldwide coverage, it was called "The Shot Heard 'Round the World," after the description in poetry by Ralph Waldo Emerson of the musket shot that began the War of the American Revolution on the Lexington Green, outside Boston, in 1775.

Round the world? It was beamed around the U.S.A. in the first nationally-televised (NBC) broadcast of any non-World Series game, and the Armed Forces Radio Network played it for every U.S. military base. Including in London.

The writer George Plimpton claimed to have heard it while studying at England's Cambridge University. Including in Korea, where a war was raging that would soon claim as draftees Willie Mays, the Giant batter who was on deck, and Don Newcombe, the Dodger pitcher who'd nearly won the game before being relieved. (Yankees Whitey Ford, Jerry Coleman and Billy Martin would also serve in that war.) This was reflected in an episode of the TV show M*A*S*H.

There are 3 men who played in that game, 65 years ago today, who are still alive: Giant Willie Mays and Dodgers Branca and Newcombe, whom Branca relieved. (Monte Irvin of the Giants died earlier this year.) Also still alive from the Dodgers' roster are Carl Erskine, Tommy Brown and Wayne Terwilliger.


The same day that Thomson hit that homer, 1,200 miles to the northwest, David Mark Winfield was born in St. Paul, Minnesota. Dave Winfield would star for the San Diego Padres and the Yankees, and helped the Pinstripes to a Pennant in 1981.

But, infamously, he went just 1-for-22 in the World Series, and fell short with the Yanks in the Division races of 1985, '86, '87 and '88. This led George Steinbrenner to (unfairly) tag him as "Mr. May," hire a criminal to dig up dirt on him, and finally exile him to the California Angels.

Winfield finally won a World Series as he got the game-winning hit for the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 6 in 1992, collected his 3,000th career hit with his hometown Minnesota Twins, and retired with the Pennant-winning Cleveland Indians of 1995.

His Number 31 was retired by the Padres, but while the Yankees gave him a Dave Winfield Day following his Hall of Fame election in 2001, he has not yet received a Plaque in Monument Park, and his Number 31 has been worn by some rather mediocre Yankees, including Hensley "Bam-Bam" Meulens, Steve Karsay, Aaron Small (he of the 10-0 record in 2005 but 0-1 in the ALDS and was soon rightfully gone from the majors), and the 2nd, unwanted coming of Javier Vazquez.

But it has also been worn by some good players; all of these were former or future All-Stars, regardless of what they did as Yankees: Bob Wickman, Frank Tanana, Lance Johnson, Ian Kennedy, the execrable Vazquez, Rafael Soriano, current wearer and future Hall-of-Famer Ichiro Suzuki, and a man who should one day join Big Dave and Ichiro in the Hall of Fame, Tim Raines, a contributor to the 1996 and 1998 World Champions. Now, it belongs to outfielder Aaron Hicks. (Greg Bird, the rookie sensation of 2015 who was injured for all of 2016, has been given Number 33.)

So why hasn't Dave gotten his number retired and his Plaque? Could there still be a grudge held by George Steinbrenner's children, after all this time?


October 3, 1226: Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone dies in his hometown of Assisi, in Umbria, Italy. Better known as Francis of Assisi, he was only 44 years old. In less than 2 years, Pope Gregory IX canonized him.

St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals and the environment, the traditional founder of the Franciscan Order, and the namesake of the City of San Francisco. When Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected Pope in 2013, he named himself Francis in the Saint's honor.

October 3, 1656: Myles Standish dies in Duxbury, Massachusetts at age 72. In 1858, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow would write the poem "The Courtship of Myles Standish," portraying the Mayflower pilgrim as a timid romantic. In fact, he was commander of the Massachusetts militia from its 1621 founding until his death, and was brutal against the local native Americans.

October 3, 1838: Chief Black Hawk dies of a brief illness near Fort Mason, Iowa. He was 71 years old. He was born Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak in what's now Rock Island, Illinois, in the Quad Cities, which straddle the Mississippi River between Illinois and Iowa, about halfway between Chicago to the east and Des Moines to the west.

Black Hawk fought with the British against the Americans in the War of 1812, and fought against U.S. troops again in 1832, in Illinois and Wiscoinsn, in what became known as the Black Hawk War. He was captured, and imprisoned for a short time. In his last years, he worked to reconcile his people with his former enemies.

What does he have to do with sports? He was the namesake of the hockey team, whose name was usually written as "Chicago Black Hawks," until 1986, when someone found the team's original charter, and found that it was written as "Chicago Blackhawks," and so it has officially been registered with the NHL ever since.

From the beginning of the franchise in 1926, the Hawks have used an Indian head, a left-facing profile with 4 feathers, as their logo. However, most depictions of Black Hawk show him with a Mohawk or similar hairstyle, even though the Mohawk tribe lived hundreds of miles to the east, in New York State.

October 3, 1872: Fred Clifford Clarke is born in Winterset, Iowa -- later to be the birthplace of actor John Wayne, and a filming location for Cold Turkey and The Bridges of Madison County.

Clarke grew up in nearby Des Moines, debuted as a left fielder with the Louisville Colonels in 1894, became their manager in 1897, called up John "Honus" Wagner to give him his big break, and then, after the 1899 season, when the National League contracted the Colonels out of existence, they gave owner Barney Dreyfuss the chance to buy the Pittsburgh Pirates. Since Wagner was now his biggest star, and Pittsburgh was Wagner's hometown, Dreyfuss took the deal, and took Clarke and Wagner with him.

Clarke, maintaining his .312 lifetime batting average, managed the Pirates to the Pennant in 1901, 1902 and 1903, nearly won a wild 3-way race with the Giants and the Chicago Cubs in 1908, and then won the Pennant again in 1909. They lost the 1st World Series to the team now known as the Boston Red Sox, featuring Cy Young, in 1903, but beat Ty Cobb and the Detroit Tigers in 1909.

Hardly playing after 1911, Clarke retired as both a player and a manager after 1915, and bought a ranch outside Winfield, Kansas. He named it the Little Pirate Ranch. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945.

Fred Clarke was so tough! (How tough was he?) In 1947, he and his wife were fishing in northern Minnesota, and their boat was overturned. They both survived and went back out the next day. A few weeks later, he went quail hunting, and was nearly shot by another hunter. A few weeks after that, he was caught in a gas furnace explosion in his basement, and survived. He was 74 years old. He died in 1960, at the age of 87, after what I can only presume was a wild lovemaking session with his equally elderly-but-tough wife.

October 3, 1891, 125 years ago: Ruth Cleveland is born in New York, the daughter of former President Grover Cleveland. She caught diphtheria in 1904, and died just a few weeks after her 12th birthday, sending the nation into mourning.

In 1921, as Babe Ruth was in the initial phase of his home run craze, the Curtiss Candy Company renamed its Kandy Kake bar the Baby Ruth. Ruth sued for use of his name without permission. In one of the great pieces of bullshit artistry in American history, Curtiss claimed that the bar was named for Ruth Cleveland, who was, in her time, known as Baby Ruth. A court upheld this claim, even though Baby Ruth had already been forgotten and Babe Ruth was one of the most famous men in America.

October 3, 1895: Harry Wright dies in Atlantic City, New Jersey at age 60. He and his brother George Wright starred on the 1st openly professional baseball team, the 1869-70 Cincinnati Red Stockings. Harry was the manager and the center fielder, and George was the shortstop. That's right: Just as 2 Wright Brothers in Ohio invented the airplane, so too did 2 Wright Brothers in Ohio invent professional baseball.

October 3, 1897: Adrian Constantine Anson of the Chicago Colts (forerunners of the Cubs) hits 2 home runs against Willie Sudhoff of the St. Louis Browns (forerunners of the Cardinals) at Robison Field in St. Louis. The Colts win, 7-1.

Hitting a home run is a lot harder in this period than it would become, and hitting 2 in 1 game is rare. But "Cap" Anson, the Colts' 1st baseman and manager, is 45 years old. For over 100 years, he will rank as the oldest man ever to hit a home run in the major leagues, until surpassed by Julio Franco in 2006.

It is the last game that Cap will ever play, after 22 major league seasons (27 if you count the National Association of 1871-75). He retires -- counting his NA stats -- with a .334 lifetime batting average, an OPS+ of 142, 3,435 hits (then a record), 97 home runs (not a record but great for the era), and 2,075 RBIs (then a record).

However, today, he is best remembered as the man whose refusal to play against black players led baseball to draw the color line in the 1880s. And, judging by his memoir, he wasn't too fond of Catholics, Jews and Native Americans, either. A great player, but a skunk.


October 3, 1900: The Dodgers, then known as the Superbas, beat the Boston Braves at the South End Grounds to win the NL Pennant — and, with the setup then in place, the unofficial World Championship of baseball. They would not win another for 55 years, but, then, it would be official.

The last surviving player from that Dodger team was pitcher Harry Howell, soon to be an original 1903 New York Highlander (Yankee), who lived on until 1956, aged 79.

October 3, 1904: Christy Mathewson sets a NL record by striking out 16 batters, and the Giants beat the Cardinals 3-1.

October 3, 1909: The Detroit Tigers beat the Chicago White Sox, 3-1 at South Side Park in Chicago. The Tigers have already clinched their 3rd straight Pennant, and extend what was then the American League record with their 98th win of the season.

But the game is hardly meaningless, as Ty Cobb finishes the season with .377, 9 home runs (all inside-the-park) and 107 runs batted in, giving him the American League Triple Crown.

October 3, 1914: The New Athletic Field opens on the campus of Mississippi A&M College in Starkville. The hosts defeat Marion Military Institute of Alabama, 54-0.

The school would be renamed Mississippi State College in 1932 and Mississippi State University in 1958. The stadium would be renamed Scott Field in 1920, for the school's football and track star Don Magruder Scott, and Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field in 2001, in honor of Aflac founder and MSU booster Floyd Davis Wade. The stadium still stands, and is 2nd only to Georgia Tech's Grant Field at Bobby Dodd Stadium as the oldest in the NCAA's Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS, formerly known as Division I-A).

October 3, 1915: For the last time, a team officially calling New Jersey home plays a Major League Baseball game. Two, in fact: The Newark Peppers play a doubleheader against the Baltimore Terrapins at Harrison Park, losing the opener 9-5, and winning the nightcap 6-0, behind the shutout pitching of Ed Reulbach, for his 20th win of the season. The ballpark seated 21,000, but no attendance figure is listed in the box score.

The team played in the Federal League: In 1914 as the Indianapolis Hoosiers, winning the Pennant; and in 1915 in Newark. Actually, in Harrison, across the Passaic River from downtown Newark. Harrison Park was bounded by Middlesex Street (now Angelo Cifelli Drive, north, third base); South 3rd Street (east, left field); Burlington Street (south, right field); and South 2nd Street (west, first base). There were (and are) railroad yards skirting the southeast corner of the property. Oil tanks were visible behind the right-center field seating, adjacent to the rail yards.

The Peppers were managed by Hall-of-Famer Bill McKechnie, and featured Hall-of-Fame outfielder Edd Roush, plus utilityman/wisenheimer Germany Schaefer and pitchers Reulbach and George Mullin. They finished 80-72, only good enough for 5th in the League. The League folded after the season.

Harrison Park burned down on August 23, 1924. The site is roughly across the PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) tracks from current soccer stadium Red Bull Arena.

Aside from 14 "home games" played by the Brooklyn Dodgers at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City in 1956 and 1957, and despite the bipartisan efforts of Governors William Cahill (Republican, 1970-74), Brendan Byrne (Democrat, 1974-82) and Tom Kean (Republican 1982-90) to get a ballpark built at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, the State of New Jersey has never hosted another Major League Baseball game.

It is currently home to 5 minor-league teams (the New Jersey Jackals in Montclair, the Somerset Patriots in Bridgewater, the Trenton Thunder, the Lakewood BlueClaws, and the Sussex County Miners, who are the successors to the New Jersey Cardinals and the Sussex Skyhawks), and has recently been home to 3 others (the now-defunct Newark Bears, Camden Riversharks and Atlantic City Surf), but no major league teams.

With the Yankees, the Mets and the Phillies all having opened new ballparks within the last 12 seasons, and the Oakland Athletics' options (should they decide they can't get a new ballpark in Oakland) not including a return to the Philadelphia area such as South Jersey (the Phils would put the kibosh on that anyway), it doesn't look like New Jersey will be getting a major league team anytime soon.

The baseball establishment of the time -- the American League and the National League -- did not recognize the Feds as "major league" then. However, every authority since the first "baseball encyclopedia" came out in 1951 has done so, and now MLB, the Elias Sports Bureau,, everybody includes FL stats with AL and NL stats.

October 3, 1915 was the final day of Federal League action (not that anyone knew so at the time), and, in addition to the Newark-Baltimore doubleheader, the St. Louis Terriers beat the Kansas City Packers 6-2, and the Chicago Whales beat the Pittsburgh Rebels 3-2.

The Whales win the Pennant when the Terriers' 2 remaining rainouts are not made up. St. Louis may have been robbed. This is not the most notorious moment of the Chicago-St. Louis baseball rivalry -- in large part because it has been all but forgotten.

There is no one alive today who remembers the Federal League. But the League does have one lasting legacy. In 1914, Chicago Whales owner Charles Weeghman, a pioneer in what we would now call fast food restaurants, built a ballpark on the North Side, naming it Weeghman Park for himself. When the FL folded, the owners of the National League's Chicago Cubs offered to sell him their team. "Lucky Charlie" accepted, and moved the Cubs from West Side Park into Weeghman Park. Within a few years, his luck ran out, and he sold the team, and the ballpark became Cubs Park. Chewing gum boss William Wrigley Jr. bought the team next, and in 1926 double-decked the stadium and renamed it Wrigley Field. And Wrigley Field it remains, still hosting Major League Baseball after 102 seasons.


October 3, 1916, 100 years ago: The Brooklyn Robins (forerunner of the Dodgers) beat the New York Giants 9-6 at Ebbets Field, and clinch the Pennant.

October 3, 1919: Rookie lefthander Dickie Kerr pitches a 3-hit shutout, Shoeless Joe Jackson gets 2 hits, and Chick Gandil gets 2 RBIs. The Chicago White Sox win Game 3 of the World Series, 3-0 over the Cincinnati Reds, and close the Reds' lead to 2 games to 1. Jackson and Gandil were in on the fix, but Kerr was not.

Adolfo "Dolf" Luque, the Reds' Cuban pitcher, pitches in relief, and thus becomes the first Latin American player to appear in a World Series game. He pitched a scoreless 8th inning.

October 3, 1920: The Chicago Bears, the founding franchise of the National Football League, play their 1st game. They were the Decatur Staleys that 1st season, a "company team," as end, head coach, general manager and co-owner George Halas worked for the A.E. Staley Manufacturing Company, which made starch products for the food, paper and other industries, best known for Staley Syrup.

The Decatur Staleys defeated another company team, the Moline Universal Tractors, 20-0 at Staley Field in Decatur. They finished the season with 10 wins, 1 loss (7-6 to the Chicago Cardinals, beginning a nasty rivalry that would last until the Cardinals moved 40 years later), and 2 ties. They finished 2nd in the league to the Akron Pros.

October 3, 1923: Babe Ruth, playing for the New York Giants? Impossible. John McGraw allowing it? Implausible. And yet, it happened.

On this date, a benefit game was held at the Polo Grounds, for 2 destitute men who had been at the founding of the Giants, as the New York Gothams, in 1883: Original owner John B. Day, a tobacco magnate who had lost his fortune in the Players' League war of 1890; and original manager Jim Mutrie, who gave the team its permanent name in 1886, when he referred to his players as, "my big boys, my giants."

Ruth and McGraw swallowed their differences, despite being about to have their teams play each other in the World Series for the 3rd straight season. Ruth's Yankee teammates Aaron Ward and Elmer Smith also suited up for the Giants. The opponents were the champions of the International League, the Baltimore Orioles -- as it happens, Ruth's 1st professional team (So shouldn't he have played for them?) and the namesake of the team for whom McGraw played and made his reputation as a rough but smart baseball man. Ruth was 1 of 4 Giants who hit home runs, in his case a 5th-inning blast that soared over the right-field roof, as the Giants won, 9-3.

It's not clear how much money was raised. Day, already ill with cancer, died a little over a year later, in early 1925. Mutrie lasted until 1938.

October 3, 1925: Texas Tech University, in Lubbock, plays its 1st football game, against McMurry University at the Panhandle South Plains Fair. Tech's Elston Archibald attempts a game-winning 20-yard field goal. It appears to be good. But the referee rules that the clock had run out before the snap, and the scoreless tie is final. It was later reported that the ref made the call as revenge for not being named Tech's 1st head coach, a job given instead to Ewing Freeland.

At the time, Tech's teams were called the Matadors. It would later be changed to the Red Raiders, with a mascot called the Masked Raider, riding a horse and dressed like a red version of Zorro.

Also on this day, Christopher Francis Haughey (pronounced "HOY") is born in Astoria, Queens, New York City. A pitcher, Chris debuted on his 18th birthday, a September call-up necessitated by World War II, in 1943. He pitched 7 innings of relief for the Brooklyn Dodgers against the Cincinnati Reds at Crosley Field, and, well, pitched like a teenager: 5 hits, 10 walks, 6 runs (but only 3 earned). The Reds won, 6-1.

"Bud" Haughey never appeared in the major leagues again, and I have no record of what he did after this, although he is still alive. A 3rd baseman also making his debut for the Dodgers that day, however, did, although we remember him as a 1st baseman: Gil Hodges.

October 3, 1927: William Womble Harrington is born in Sanford, North Carolina. A pitcher, he went 5-5 for the Athletics from 1953 (in Philadelphia) to 1956 (in Kansas City). He continued pitching in the minors until 1961. I have no record of what happened to him after that, only that he is still alive at age 89. He is 1 of 16 living former Philadelphia Athletics.


October 3, 1931: Glenn Henry Hall is born in Humboldt, Saskatchewan. Georges Vezina, Terry Sawchuk, Jacques Plante, Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur are all contenders for the title of "greatest goaltender in hockey history," but only Glenn Hall is known as "Mr. Goalie."

Because of the expansion of the schedule, which ran from 50 games at the start of Hall's career in 1951 to 70 at the end of it in 1971, people were amazed at how many games Brodeur could play: At least 67 games in 13 separate seasons, topping out at 78 out of 82 in 2006-07.

From October 6, 1955 (60 years ago this Tuesday) until November 7, 1962, a period stretching 7 years and 502 games, Glenn Hall never missed a single game. Never missed a single minute. And he played without the padding of today's goalies. Without even a mask. In a league that had Maurice Richard, Gordie Howe and Frank Mahovlich. (He was a teammate of Bobby Hull for most of his career, so he was spared that famed 118-miles-an-hour slapshot.) A back injury finally ended his run.

To put that streak in perspective: When it began, few people outside the American South had ever heard of Elvis Presley; when it ended, the Beatles and Bob Dylan had released their 1st albums (although America didn't yet know about the Beatles).

Hall won the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year in 1956. He won the Vezina Trophy as most valuable goalie in 1963, 1967 and 1969. He won the Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1961. He appeared in 13 All-Star Games. In 1968, he helped the expansion St. Louis Blues reach the Stanley Cup Finals, and despite their getting swept by the Montreal Canadiens, he was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player of the Playoffs. He got the Blues into the Finals again in 1969 and 1970, but were swept for a 2nd and a 3rd time. Hall was the goalie that Bobby Orr beat with his Flying Goal to win the 1970 Cup for the Bruins.

Hall had his Number 1 retired by the Blackhawks, was elected to the Hall of Fame, and won another Cup as goaltender coach of the Calgary Flames in 1989, having coached Mike Vernon. This means he's unofficially connected with Vernon's other Cup, with the 1997 Detroit Red Wings, the team with whom Hall began his career. In 1998, The Hockey News released a list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players. Hall came in at Number 16, trailing only Sawchuk and Plante among goalies. (Roy and Brodeur were still active.) He is still alive, and living on a farm in Alberta.

October 3, 1935: Charles Moss Duke Jr. is born in Charlotte, North Carolina. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy with a graduate degree from MIT, he was the pilot of the lunar module Orion on Apollo 16. On April 23, 1972, he walked on the Moon -- making him, at the age of 36, the youngest human being ever to do so. He left a color photograph of himself with his family on the lunar surface.

Now 81 years old, he lives in New Braunfels, Texas, is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, and is active in prison ministry.

October 3, 1936, 80 years ago: Game 3 of the World Series. Lou Gehrig homers of Freddie Fitzsimmons in the 2nd inning, and Frank Crosetti singles off his glove in the 8th, to drive in Jake Powell, and the Yankees beat the Giants, 2-1, and take the same lead in the Series.

If Fitzsimmons thought that was an unlucky break against the Yankees in Game 3 of a World Series, he hadn't seen anything yet. 1941 was coming. But, by that point, Fat Freddie would be wearing the uniform of the team he had so often shut down, the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Also on this day, John Heisman dies of pneumonia in New York, at age 66. You may only know him as the namesake of the Heisman Memorial Trophy, given out each December to the player voted the best in college football for the year. It's because it was given out by the Downtown Athletic Club, which Heisman ran from 1926 to 1936. His birthday was October 23, so I'll have more information on him on that day.

October 3, 1937: The baseball regular season ends, and Joe Medwick of the St. Louis Cardinals has won the National League Triple Crown, with a .374 batting average, 31 home runs and 154 RBIs. The native of Carteret, Middlesex County, New Jersey remains the last player to lead the NL in all 3 categories. It's since been done 6 times in the American League: By Ted Williams in 1942 and '47, by Mickey Mantle in 1956, by Frank Robinson in 1966, by Carl Yastrzemski in 1967, and by Miguel Cabrera in 2012 (which I'll mention later in this post).

Also on this day, Hank Greenberg drives in the game's only run in the 1st inning, and Jake Wade throws a 1-hitter, as the Tigers beat the Indians 1-0 at Navin Field. This is the last game played there under that name: Before the 1938 season begins, it will be renamed Briggs Stadium, and will be fully enclosed, giving it the look that will be familiar to baseball fans through 1999. In 1961, it is renamed Tiger Stadium.

Johnny Allen entered the game 15-0 for the Indians. He ends it 15-1. It is still the highest winning percentage for a pitcher with at least 13 decisions, .938 -- Tom Zachary went 12-0 for the 1929 Yankees -- until Elroy Face of Pittsburgh tops it in 1959, going 18-1, .947.

October 3, 1938: Edward Raymond Cochran is born in Albert Lea, Minnesota, and grows up in the Los Angeles suburb of Bell Gardens, California. An early rock and roll guitarist, he is best remembered for his 1958 hit "Summertime Blues," later covered by The Who and Blue Cheer. Brian Setzer, the lead singer of The Stray Cats, played the best version yet, playing Cochran in the 1987 film La Bamba.

The song is narrated by a kid who waited all year long for school to be out, then finds out that if he wants to drive the family car, he has to get a job, and, "Every time I call my baby to try to get a date, the boss says, 'No dice, son, you gotta work late.'" The song doesn't mention baseball, although the Dodgers arrived in L.A. just as the song was being recorded.

Cochran and "Be-Bop-a-Lula" singer Gene Vincent are more popular in Britain than in America, because they toured there together in 1960, along with Eddie's girlfriend, Sharon Sheeley, who had written several hit songs, including Ricky Nelson's 1958 chart-topper "Poor Little Fool." A car crash while over there killed Cochran at age 21, injured Sheeley, and busted Vincent up so badly he spent the rest of his life self-medicating with booze, dying in 1971.

October 3, 1939: Velibor Vasović is born in Požarevac, Yugoslavia -- now in Serbia. The sweeper is one of the few players to be beloved by fans of both major teams in the Serb capital of Belgrade, Partizan and Red Star. (They hate each other's guts.)

He won the Yugoslav First League with Partizan in 1961, '62, '63 and '65, and with Red Star in '64. He moved to Ajax Amsterdam, and helped turn them into the wizards of "Total Football," winning the Dutch Eredivisie in 1967, '68 and '70, and the European Cup in 1971.

He eventually returned to Red Star, and led them to the Yugoslav title in 1988. He died of a heart attack in 2002, just 62 years old.


October 3, 1940: Joseph Gilbert Yvon Jean Ratelle is born in Lac-Saint-Jean, in the Laurentian Highlands of Quebec. From 1961 to 1975, the New York Rangers had their difficulties, but they certainly didn't "suck," and Jean Ratelle was a big reason why.

The center of the classy "GAG Line," which stood for "Goal a Game," he was flanked by Rod Gilbert and Vic Hadfield, and together they, defenseman Brad Park, and goalie Eddie Giacomin revived the franchise until they became an NHL powerhouse. But the closest they ever got to the Stanley Cup was in 1972, when they lost in the Finals to the Boston Bruins. Shortly thereafter, he was a member of the Team Canada that beat the Soviet Union in the "Summit Series."

On November 11, 1975, the most famous trade in hockey history to that point -- since surpassed only by Wayne Gretzky from Edmonton to Los Angeles in 1988 -- sent Ratelle, Park and Joe Zanussi to the Bruins for Phil Esposito and Carol Vadnais. That's 3 Hall-of-Famers and 2 other All-Stars in a single trade. Players and fans on both sides were furious, but it ended up revitalizing the careers of everyone involved. Ratelle and Park helped the Bruins reach the Finals in 1977 and 1978, losing to Montreal.

Ratelle retied in 1981, with 491 goals and 776 assists. Goal a game? His 1,267 points came in 1,281 games, so he averaged almost a point a game all by himself. He won 2 Lady Byng Trophies, he's in the Hockey Hall of Fame, and Russ Cohen's 2009 book 100 Ranger Greats: Superstars, Unsung Heroes and Colorful Characters named him Number 7 among the team's greatest players in what was then an 83-year history.

Yet the Rangers have not retired his Number 19. He is still alive, and they retired 9 for a lesser player, Adam Graves, and have gone back to the 1950s to retire 9 also for Andy Bathgate and 3 for Harry Howell, so why not 19?

Also on this day, Alan Earle O'Day is born in Los Angeles. He wrote several hit songs, including "The Drum" for Bobby Sherman, "Train of Thought" for Cher, and a Number 1 hit, "Angie Baby" for Helen Reddy. In 1977, he had a Number 1 hit under his own name, "Undercover Angel." In the 1990s, a new generation discovered his music when he wrote all the songs for the TV cartoon Muppet Babies.

He died in 2013, and now, he knows for sure what he wrote in 1974, in a song that launched a comeback for the Righteous Brothers:

If you believe in forever
then life is just a one-night stand.
If there's a Rock and Roll Heaven
well, you know they got a hell of a band.

October 3, 1941, 75 years ago: Ernest Evans (no middle name) is born in Spring Gully, South Carolina, and grows up in Philadelphia. Because he did a great impression of rock and roll pioneer Fats Domino, and was fat himself, his friends nicknamed him Chubby Checker. Ironically, his real voice is so distinctive, and his biggest hit song so iconic, that his own voice became one of the most imitated in music history.

In 1960, he covered Hank Ballard's song "The Twist," and, thanks to his appearance on the Philadelphia-based ABC show American Bandstand, the song hit Number 1. He recorded several other songs based on The Twist and other dances, and "The Twist" came back in 1962 and hit Number 1 again -- the only recording in the Rock and Roll Era (1955 to the present) to hit Number 1, drop off the chart completely, and return to the top spot.

He's also credited with being the 1st rock singer to get grownups to dance along with teenagers' records, thus helping make rock respectable. Though some would say that's a bad thing -- and some of those who would say that are rock fans! And that "Woo, woo, yeah!" may have inspired The Beatles on a song or two.

What does he have to do with sports? His daughter, Mistie Bass, plays for the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury. Both Ken Burns' Baseball and Billy Crystal's 61* included "The Twist" in telling their stories about the 1961 Yankees and the Mickey Mantle & Roger Maris home run record chase. I have taken to calling Carlton Fisk's waving as his home run headed for the foul pole in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series "The Fenway Twist."

October 3, 1942: Game 3 of the World Series. The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Yankees 2-0, with Ernie White pitching a 6-hit shutout.

October 3, 1945: Anthony Brown (no middle name) is born in Oldham, Greater Manchester, England. A forward, Tony "Bomber" Brown was a big part of the Birmingham-area soccer team West Bromwich Albion that won the League Cup in 1966 and the FA Cup in 1968, along with captain Graham Williams and forward Jeff Astle. (They also had a Bobby Hope, no relation to Bob Hope, though he was born in England. The next year's FA Cup was won by a goal by a Manchester City player named Neil Young, no relation to the rocker of the same name.)

Brown led the Football League Division One in goals in 1971. West Brom were relegated to Division Two in 1973, but he helped them get back up in 1976. He came to America to play for the Foxboro-based New England Tea Men in 1980 (yes, an Englishman playing for a team named after the Boston Tea Party), who moved in 1981 to become the Jacksonville Tea Men (whose name no longer made sense). He returned to West Brom, and is their all-time leader in appearances and goals.

He was honored with a statue outside West Brom's stadium, The Hawthorns. He now broadcasts their games for Beacon Radio.

October 3, 1946, 70 years ago: The Cardinals beat the Dodgers 8-4 at Ebbets Field, and sweep the Playoff for the Pennant, 2 games to none. This is the 1st time the Dodgers have lost a Playoff for the Pennant. It will not be the last.

October 3, 1947: The Yankees' Floyd "Bill" Bevens takes a no-hitter into the bottom of the 9th in Game 4 of the World Series. He gets to within 1 out of the 1st World Series (and thus the 1st postseason) no-hitter ever. But 10 walks put him in danger, and Harry "Cookie" Lavagetto pinch-hits a double-off the right-field wall at Ebbets Field, and the Dodgers win, 3-2.

Instead of the Yankees being up 3 games to 1, the Series is now tied. This becomes known as The Cookie Game.

Two days later, Al Gionfriddo will rob Joe DiMaggio with an amazing catch to preserve the Dodgers’ lead in Game 6, but the Yankees win the Series in Game 7. By a weird twist of fate, neither Bevens, nor Lavagetto, nor Gionfriddo will ever play again.

Who is still alive from this Series, 68 years later? For the Yankees, now that Yogi Berra has died, only Bobby Brown. For the Dodgers, only Ralph Branca. (Last year, I said that Duke Snider was the last survivor, and Gene Hermanski was the last survivor of the Dodgers who actually played in this Series. Error, me.)

I can find no explanation of why Floyd Clifford Bevens (1916-1991) was called "Bill." Nor can I find one for why Harry Arthur Lavagetto (1912-1990) was called "Cookie."


October 3, 1951: Also on the day of the Thomson homer, Clive Michael Charles is born in Dagenham, East London. A left back, he was one of the earliest black players to make it in English soccer's top division. He played for his local club, West Ham United, and for Cardiff City in Wales.

He found a home in North America, playing for Montreal Olympique, and then for the original version of the Portland Timbers. He stayed in Portland, coaching at a high school, then the University of Portland, and founded the women's team there in 1989. In the 1990s, while still coaching both the men's and women's teams at UP, he assisted with the U.S. national team, managing the men's Under-23 team and the women's Under-20 team. He was also part of ABC's broadcast team for the 1994 World Cup.

The only thing that stopped all this coaching was prostate cancer, in 2003. The new Timbers team that has joined Major League Soccer has made his Number 3 their 1st retied number.

October 3, 1952: Game 3 of the World Series. Yogi Berra and Johnny Mize hit home runs, but Preacher Roe is otherwise masterful, and Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese execute a double steal that results in a passed ball by Yogi and the winning run. The Dodgers win, 5-3, and lead the Series, 2-1.

Also on this day, Bruce Charles Arians is born in Paterson, Passaic County, New Jersey, but he grew up in York, Pennsylvania. A quarterback at Virginia Tech long before Michael and Marcus Vick, he was the 1st white player at that school to be the roommate of a black player: James Barber, father of twins and NFL stars Tiki and Ronde.

He never played in the NFL, but has quite a resume as a coach, including at Virginia Tech, Alabama, and as head coach at Temple from 1983 to 1988; and with 6 different NFL teams. He won a Super Bowl ring as the Pittsburgh Steelers' receivers coach in the 2005 season, and another as their offensive coordinator in 2008. In 2012, he was named offensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts, but when Chuck Pagano had to step aside for health reasons, he became interim head coach, leading them to a 9-3 record.

That led the Arizona Cardinals to offer him the job as head coach, and he's gotten them into the Playoffs the last 2 seasons, including winning the NFC West last year. They're off to a bad start this year, though: 1-3. His son Jake Arians was briefly a placekicker for the Buffalo Bills.

October 3, 1953: Game 4 of the World Series. Duke Snider hits a home run off Whitey Ford in the 1st inning, and the Dodgers even the Series by beating the Yankees, 7-3.

The game ends strangely. Gene Woodling opens the top of the 9th inning with a single, Billy Martin singles, and Gil McDougald, who homered earlier, walks to load the bases. Dodger manager Walter Alston pulls Billy Loes, and brings in Clem Labine. He strikes Phil Rizzuto out. Casey Stengel sends Johnny Mize up to pinch-hit for pitcher Art Schallock (no DH in those days), and he flies to center. Then Mickey Mantle singles Woodling home, but Martin is thrown out trying to score and make it 7-4.

This was Mize's last major league appearance. He did not play in Game 5 or Game 6, and retired after the Series.

Also on this day, the Canadian Arena Company buys the entire Quebec Senior Hockey League, and converts it to a professional minor league. The CAC also owns the Montreal Canadiens, and this allows them to call up the best player in the QSHL, Jean Beliveau of the Quebec Aces. Beliveau hadn't wanted to officially turn pro, despite brief callups with the Canadiens in the 1950-51 and 1952-53 seasons, but now, he has no choice: It's either that, or not play hockey at all.

For the next 18 seasons, Beliveau was one of the best and classiest players in hockey, winning 10 Stanley Cups with the Canadiens, scoring 507 goals (he was only the 4th player to reach the 500 mark), and leading the Hockey Hall of Fame to waive its eligibility requirement to elect him just 1 year after his retirement.

Until his death in 2014, he was a Canadiens "Ambassadeur," representing the club at many functions. He participated in ceremonies honoring the club's 75th Anniversary in 1985 (it actually should have been in 1984), the closing of the Montreal Forum and the opening of the Bell Centre in 1996, Maurice Richard's funeral in 2000, and the team's 100th Anniversary in 2009.

October 3, 1954: Dennis Lee Eckersley is born in Oakland. In 1977, he pitched a no-hitter for the Indians. In 1978, he won 20 games for the Red Sox -- although he got beat by the Yankee bats and Ron Guidry in the 3rd game of the "Boston Massacre" series that September.

In 1984, in a very fateful trade, the Red Sox sent him and Mike Brumley to the Cubs for Bill Buckner. Eck helped the Cubs win the NL East that year, but pitched poorly in the Playoffs. (And if you don't know what Buckner did with the Red Sox, you're either too young, or you're reading the wrong blog.)

By this point, his drinking was getting the better of him. He dried out, and in 1987, he was traded to his hometown team, the Oakland Athletics. Tony LaRussa converted him into a reliever, and he became the 1st 9th-inning-only closer specialist, helping the A's win 4 AL West titles in 5 years, including 3 straight Pennants and the 1989 World Series. However, he gave up a game-winning homer to Kirk Gibson of the Dodgers in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series -- and used the occasion to coin the term "walk-off home run."

In 1992, he was given the AL's Most Valuable Player and Cy Young awards. He helped the Cardinals win the NL Central in 1996, and in 1998 returned to the Red Sox and helped them win the AL Wild Card. He retired with 197 wins and 390 saves -- factoring into 587 wins by his team, a figure topped in all of baseball history by only Mariano Rivera. (Mo saved 652 and won 82, for a total of 734. Cy Young won 511 and saved 17, totaling 528.)

In 1999, shortly after he retired, he was ranked Number 98 on The Sporting News' 100 Greatest Baseball Players -- probably shortchanging him a bit. He was also elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Red Sox' Hall of Fame, and the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame. The A's retired his Number 43.

October 3, 1955: Captain Kangaroo premieres on CBS, and runs early in the morning for 29 years. On the same day, The Mickey Mouse Club premieres on ABC, although I doubt that very many kids were watching it that afternoon, especially in the New York Tri-State Area. Because Game 6 of the World Series, a Subway Series, is being broadcast on NBC at the same time.

At Yankee Stadium, the Bronx Bombers score 5 runs in the 1st inning, including 3 on a Moose Skowron home run. Whitey Ford holds the Dodgers off, and the Yankees win 5-1, tying the Series up.

The home team has won every game in the Series. Good news for the Yankees, as Game 7 will be played tomorrow in The Bronx. The Dodgers are 0-7 in World Series play, including 0-5 against the Yankees.

Yes, we know what happened in Game 7. But they didn't know. There was a lot of drama.

On the same day, James Alfred Joyce III is born in Toledo. No, he's not related to James Joyce the early 20th Century Irish writer. This Jim Joyce has been an MLB umpire since 1989, first in the AL, then in both Leagues after the 2000 consolidation.

He's officiated at 3 All-Star Games, 10 Division Series, 4 LCS, and 3 World Series: 1999, 2001 and 2013. But he's best known for a call he blew, on June 2, 2010, a grounder to 1st base that he incorrectly called safe, ruining a perfect game and a no-hitter for Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga on what would have been the last out.

He's been an umpire for 2 no-hitters that were finished: Carlos Zambrano's in 2008, and Dallas Braden's perfect game a few days before the Galarraga incident. He later -- correctly -- called interference on Will Middlebrooks of the Red Sox, leading crew chief Dana DeMuth to allow the winning run to score for the Cardinals in Game 3 of the 2013 World Series.

October 3, 1956, 60 years ago: Game 1 of the World Series. As defending World Champions, the Brooklyn Dodgers no longer fear the Yankees, or think that anything that can go wrong, will. Mickey Mantle and Billy Martin both hit home runs, but so do Gil Hodges and Jackie Robinson -- the last home run that Robinson will ever hit. The Dodgers win, 6-3.

October 3, 1957: Game 2 of the World Series. Johnny Logan, the Milwaukee Braves' shortstop -- a man who was once told that something that appeared in a newspaper was a typographical error, and his instinct made him say, "The hell it was, it was a clean base hit!" -- hits a home run, and the Braves have their 1st-ever World Series game win, 4-2 over the Yankees, tying the Series.

October 3, 1959: Frederick Steven Couples is born in Seattle. True, golf is not a sport, but some of you believe it is. Despite a career that has gotten him into the World Golf Hall of Fame, Fred Couples has won just 1 major, the 1992 Masters.


October 3, 1962: The Giants beat the Dodgers in a Playoff for the National League Pennant again -- this time on the West Coast, and at the Dodgers' home. At Dodger Stadium, San Francisco wins the rubber game, beating Los Angeles, 6-4 as Don Larsen (yes, the hero of 1956 bedevils the Dodgers again) gets the win in relief of Juan Marichal.

This is the 3rd and last time the Dodgers have lost a Playoff for the Pennant, all on October 3. They did, however, win one in 1959, against the Milwaukee Braves, but that was on a September 29.

Thanks to the extended season, Maury Wills sets a major league record for the most games played in a season, appearing in 165 games. This was the year he stole 104 bases, setting a new major league record. However, like Roger Maris' 61 home runs the season before, he didn't break the old record in 154 games, so his achievement and Ty Cobb's 96 steals in 1915 were listed as separate records. As with Babe Ruth's 60 homers in 1927 and Maris' 61 in '61, there was never actually an asterisk in the
record book.

October 3, 1963: Game 2 of the World Series. The Yankees don't fare much better against 1955 nemesis Johnny Podres than they did against Sandy Koufax in Game 1. Former Yankee Bill "Moose" Skowron hits a home run against them, off Al Downing, and the Dodgers win, 4-1.

The Dodgers have now taken 2 games at Yankee Stadium. The Series goes to Los Angeles, and the Yankees haven't faced Don Drysdale yet. And they'll face Koufax again in Game 4.

Also on this day, Bobby McDermott dies in Yonkers, Westchester County, New York, from injuries sustained in a car accident. He was only 49 years old. Some considered him the greatest basketball player of the 1930s and '40s -- or, at least, the best shooter in the game at the time.

Playing for the Brooklyn Visitations, he won the American Basketball League title in 1935. Playing for and coaching the Fort Wayne Pistons, he won the National Basketball League title in 1944 and 1945. Playing for and coaching the Chicago American Gears, alongside George Mikan, he won the NBL title in 1947. He was a 4-time NBL Most Valuable Player -- while he was already a head coach.

But he was forgotten after his death, as his style, suited to the pre-shot-clock era, was left behind. He wasn't elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame until 1988.

October 3, 1964: The Yankees score 5 runs in the 8th inning, and beat the Indians 8-3 at Yankee Stadium, finally clinching a hard-won AL Pennant, their hardest since 1949, with just 1 game to spare. Bobby Richardson, Elston Howard and Joe Pepitone have RBI singles in the inning, and Mickey Mantle draws a bases-loaded walk. Pete Mikkelsen is the winner, in relief of Al Downing. The Chicago White Sox beat the Kansas City Athletics 7-0, but it does them no good, as they are eliminated.

At Sportsman's Park, the Mets shock the Cardinals, 15-5, preventing them from clinching the NL Pennant. But the Cubs beat the Giants 10-7 at Candlestick Park, eliminating the Giants from the race, and rendering impossible what had until then been possible: A 4-way tie for the flag.

Now, the Cards and the idle Reds are tied for 1st, with the idle Phillies 1 game back. The Giants are 2 back, the Milwaukee Braves 5 back. The Phillies and Reds face each other in Cincinnati tomorrow. If the Cards win, they win the Pennant no matter what happens at Crosley Field. If the Cards lose and the Reds win, the Reds win the Pennant. If the Cards lose and the Phils win, there's a 3-way tie for the Pennant that the Phils thought they had won on September 20, when they were up by 6 1/2 with 12 games to go, before their epic 10-game losing streak.

This is the craziest NL race since the 3-way New York/Chicago/Pittsburgh struggle of 1908, making the 1951 and '62 Giant-Dodger races look tame by comparison.

Also on this day, Clive Owen (no middle name) is born in Coventry, Warwickshire, England. He's starred in the films Gosford Park, King Arthur, Closer, Sin City and Children of Men. But he reached his peak in Shoot 'Em Up. Indeed, he made all other men look small, by pleasuring Monica Bellucci and shooting several bad guys. At the same time.

Sports? He's never been a professional athlete, but he supports Liverpool Football Club, rather than hometown side Coventry City F.C.

October 3, 1965: Victor Pellot, better known by his nom de horsehide Vic Power, 1st baseman for the Los Angeles Angels, hits an RBI single against the Minnesota Twins at Metropolitan Stadium, but the Angels lose, 5-2.

Power retires after the game, with a .284 lifetime batting average. It makes him the last active player who had played for the Philadelphia Athletics. He had once been considered to be the 1st black player for the Yankees, but his "hot-dog" fielding and dating of white women angered the Yankee brass, and they traded him to the A's. He starred with them after their move to Kansas City, and with the Cleveland Indians, before wrapping it up with the Angels. He returned to Puerto Rico, built a youth baseball program there, and died in 2005, age 78.

Also on this day, the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Milwaukee Braves 3-0 at Dodger Stadium. It is the Braves' last game as a Milwaukee team. In their last home game in Milwaukee, they lost to the Dodgers 7-6. They will move to Atlanta for 1966, and don't play in Milwaukee again until 1998, when the Brewers, who arrived in 1970, are moved to the National League.

October 3, 1966, 50 years ago: Darrin Glen Fletcher is born in the Chicago suburb (or should that be "Cuburb"?) of Elmhurst, Illinois. The son of major leaguer Tom Fletcher, he never played for the Cubs, but he did play for the Dodgers, Phillies, Montreal Expos and Toronto Blue Jays. He caught Tommy Greene's no-hitter for the Phillies in 1991, and was a member of the 1994 Expo team that got screwed by the strike. He's broadcast for the Jays, and his son Casey is a highly-regarded prospect at Darrin's alma mater, the University of Illinois.

October 3, 1968: Mickey Lolich picks a great time to hit what turns out to be the only home run of his career. The Detroit Tiger pitcher hits it off Nelson Briles, to aid his own cause, as the Tigers beat the St. Louis Cardinals 8-1 at Busch Stadium, and tie up the World Series at 1 game apiece.

Also on this day, Gregory Clinton Foster is born in Oakland. The journeyman forward reached the NBA Finals with the Utah Jazz in 1997 and 1998, and won a title with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2001. He's now an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks.

October 3, 1969: Gwen Renée Stefani is born in Fullerton, Orange County, California, and grows up in neighboring Anaheim. Like the Angels have been for much of their history, she described her band No Doubt as "just a bunch of losers from Anaheim." Well, she ain't no loser, and she ain't no hollaback girl, either.


October 3, 1970: Mike Cuellar of the Baltimore Orioles becomes the 1st pitcher to hit a home run in a League Championship Series game. The Cuban lefty's 4th-inning grand slam proves to be the difference in the Orioles' 10-6 Game 1 victory over the Twins.

October 3, 1971: Wilfredo Cordero Nieva is born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. A multi-position player, the man usually known as Wil Cordero was a teammate of Darrin Fletcher's on those ill-fated 1994 Expos. He did reach the postseason with the 1999 Indians, and closed his career as an original member of the Washington Nationals in 2005. He is now a coach.

October 3, 1972: Roberto Clemente plays in his 2,433rd career game, breaking the Pittsburgh Pirates' team record set by Honus Wagner. In the 9th inning, he replaces left fielder Gene Clines, as Vic Davalillo moves from right field to left field to open up Clemente's usual position, and doesn't come to bat. The Pirates win, 6-2. But it turns out to be Clemente's last regular season game. He had gotten his 3,000th and final hit on September 30.

On this same day, Roric Harrison of the Orioles hits a home run in the 2nd game of a doubleheader with the Indians, and wins 4-3. It is the last home run hit by an American League pitcher until June 30, 1997, when Bobby Witt of the Texas Rangers will do it in an Interleague game. The most recent was Nathan Karns of the Tampa Bay Rays, on July 21, 2015.

October 3, 1973: Neve Adrienne Campbell is born in Guelph, Ontario. She rose to fame as Julia Salinger on Party of Five, and to the stratosphere as Sidney Prescott in the Scream films. She's recently been on Grey's Anatomy and Mad Men, and is now a regular on House of Cards.

Also on this day, Lena Headey (no middle name) is born in Hamilton, Bermuda. Most of us first knew about her as Queen Gorgo in 300, but she plays a very different queen, Cersei Lannister, on Game of Thrones.

October 3, 1974: The Cleveland Indians hire Frank Robinson, currently playing for them, as the 1st black manager in Major League Baseball. It has been almost 2 years since a dying Jackie Robinson, making his final appearance at a ballpark during the World Series, announced to the crowd he wanted to see a black manager. Frank, no relation, said his only regret was that Jackie didn't live to see the day.

Indians manager Ted Bonda knew that, racial history aside, Frank was qualified for the job: He had already been the Captain of the Baltimore Orioles teams that had won 4 Pennants between 1966 and 1971, and that he had already been considered for 2 different managerial posts. One was the Yankees': After George Steinbrenner was unable, for complicated legal reasons, to hire Dick Williams to replace Ralph Houk, he was convinced by team president Gabe Paul to consider Robinson, who was then playing for the Angels, but their owner Gene Autry wouldn't let him go.

Now, Frank was playing for the Indians, and Bonda knew that if he didn't hire him as manager, somebody else might, and he didn't want to lose him So he did the right thing for history, as well as the right thing for his team. He signed Frank at a salary of $175,000 to do both jobs -- $855,000 in today's money.

As it turned out, Frank wasn't nearly as good a manager as he was a player. He would manage the Indians, the Giants (making him the 1st black manager in each League), the Orioles and the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals franchise, managing them during their move. Only once, in a career that lasted from 1975 to 2006, did he take a team into a genuine Pennant race, the 1989 Orioles missing the AL East title by 2 games. But he still deserved the chance.

October 3, 1976, 40 years ago: Hank Aaron plays his last game. In his last at-bat, playing for the Milwaukee Brewers at County Stadium, where he had previously played for the Milwaukee Braves, he singles off Dave Roberts of the Tigers -- the same pitcher who, for the Houston Astros, had given up his 712th and 713th career home runs. But the Tigers win the game, 5-2.

Hank retires with 3,771 hits and 2,174 runs scored, both 2nd at the time only to Ty Cobb; a .305 batting average, a 155 OPS+; and with these all-time records: 755 home runs, 2,297 RBIs, 6,856 total bases, and 1,477 extra-base hits (624 doubles, 98 triples and 755 homers). Only the home run record has been broken, and that dubiously.

The Brewers retire his Number 44 on this day, even though he only played 2 seasons for them. It's more of a recognition for his contribution to baseball in Milwaukee, which was 14 seasons counting his tenure there with the Braves. The Atlanta version of the Braves will retire Number 44 for him on their next Opening Day.

On the same day, On the last day of the season, the Kansas City Royals' George Brett and Hal McRae and the Twins' Rod Carew are separated by .001 for the AL batting title -- and their teams are playing each other. Brett, who goes 3-for-4, edges his Royals teammate for the crown with the deciding hit, an inside-the-park home run, a line drive that outfielder Steve Brye misplayed, leading McRae to believe the lack of effort was intentional and racist. (Carew's thoughts on this are unrecorded.) The final totals: Brett .333, McRae .332, Carew .331.

Also on this day, only 9,155 fans come out to the Oakland Coliseum to witness the end of an era. The California Angels beat the Oakland Athletics 1-0. Nolan Ryan and Mike Torrez go the distance. Having already lost Jim "Catfish" Hunter to a legal wrinkle, and having traded away his best player, Reggie Jackson, A's owner Charlie Finley goes on to make absolutely no effort to re-sign Rollie Fingers, Sal Bando, Joe Rudi, Gene Tenace, Bert Campaneris, or even the recently acquired Don Baylor. He also looks to trade Vida Blue, this time without the interference of Commissioner Bowie Kuhn.

This was also the last game in Oakland uniforms for future Hall-of-Famers Billy Williams, the great Chicago Cub left fielder, who retires; and Willie McCovey, who heads back across the Bay and re-signs with the San Francisco Giants.

October 3, 1977: Eric Walter Munson is born in San Diego. No relation to Thurman Munson, but also having played some games as a catcher, he was mainly a 3rd baseman. He played in the major leagues from 2000 to 2009, including on the awful 119-loss Detroit Tigers team of 2003. He is now an assistant coach at the University of Southern California.

Also on this day, CBS airs an episode of Match Game 77 with this question: Count Dracula said, "Today, I am going to the big-league baseball game, because today is (Blank) Day!" Obviously, the answer was Bat Day.

October 3, 1978: Game 1 of the ALCS at Royals Stadium in Kansas City. (Now Kauffman Stadium.) The Royals have added former St. Louis Cardinals reliever Al Hrabosky, a.k.a. the Mad Hungarian, a blazing lefty with a wild-man act that many find intimidating (and others find annoying). They and their fans think he will make the difference, so that they can finally win the Pennant, even if they have to face the Yankees in the Playoffs for the 3rd year in a row -- which they do.

But the Yankees score 3 runs on Dennis Leonard, a Brooklyn native who'd given them fits in the 1976 and '77 ALCS. They're up 4-1 with 2 out in the top of the 8th, and manager Whitey Herzog gets Hrabosky up. Even Phil Rizzuto, broadcasting the game on WPIX-Channel 11, buys into the hype: Seeing him warm up, he says, "Uh-oh, the Mad Hungarian!"

When Lou Piniella singles, sending sending Mickey Rivers to 2nd, the White Rat, knowing the next 5 batters are lefties -- Reggie Jackson, Graig Nettles, Chris Chambliss, Roy White (a switch-hitter but weaker on the right side) and Brian Doyle -- brings Hrabosky in.

The Yankees' struggles against Paul Splittorff and Larry Gura in those last 2 ALCS gave rise to the famous but erroneous notion that, "The Yankees can't hit lefthanded pitchers, especially in the postseason." (They'd won 21 World Series by this point, so they must have scored off some lefties.) This was especially pointed out the year before, when Reggie couldn't touch Splittorff, and then-manager Billy Martin held him out of Game 5 until Herzog brought in the righthanded Doug Bird to relieve in the 8th, and then sent Reggie in to pinch-hit, working an RBI single.

Hrabosky does his thing, then gets on the mound, and pitches to Reggie. The ball leaves his bat in Kansas City, and lands in St. Louis. Rizzuto says, "Oh, that's gone! That is gone! Holy cow!" Reggie is, after all, Mr. October.

The Yankees win, 7-1. Having gained at least a split in K.C., they won the Pennant in New York, and won the World Series. Hrabosky was never the same pitcher: The Royals gave him 1 more year, and then traded him to Atlanta, and then they won the Pennant, with new reliever Dan Quisenberry; while Hrabosky threw his last big-league pitch at age 33. Today, he's a Cardinal broadcaster, and if you remember him as a player, as I do, well, you're old, too.

Also on this day, Alexander Belov dies of cardiac cancer in Leningrad, Soviet Union (St. Petersburg, Russia). He was only 26. A center at Spartak Leningrad, he scored the controversial basket that won the Gold Medal for the Soviet team in the 1972 Olympics in Munich, ending the U.S. team's 63-game Olympic winning streak. (Let the record show that he benefited from the unfairly-awarded extra 3 seconds, but did not cause any unfairness himself.)

Also on this day, Gerald Asamoah is born in Mampong, Ghana. The family moved to Germany in 1990, and he helped Gelsenkirchen club Schalke win the DFB-Pokal (German Cup) in 2001 and '02, and the German national team to the 2002 World Cup Final.

October 3, 1979: Game 1 of the ALCS. The 1st postseason game in the 19-year history of the team then known as the California Angels doesn't end well for them. They led the Orioles 2-0 in the bottom of the 3rd and blew it. It was 3-3 and went to extra innings. In the bottom of the 10th, John Lowenstein hit a 3-run homer, and the O's won 6-3.

Also on this day, a day after having delivered Mass at Yankee Stadium, Pope John Paul II does so at Shea Stadium in the afternoon, and at Madison Square Garden at night. The Pope went to Yankee Stadium before Shea Stadium? Maybe he really was infallible!


October 3, 1980: Anquan Kenmile Boldin is born in Pahokee, Florida, outside Palm Beach. The receiver played in Super Bowl XLIII with the Arizona Cardinals, and won Super Bowl XLVII with the Baltimore Ravens. A 3-time Pro Bowler with 952 catches and 12,518 receiving yards to his credit, he signed with the team he beat to win a ring, the San Francisco 49ers. No hard feelings, apparently. He now plays for the Detroit Lions.

Also on this day, Sheldon W. Brookbank -- I can't find a record of what the W. stands for -- is born in Lanigan, Saskatchewan. The defenseman debuted in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils in 2007, and stayed for 2 seasons. He won a Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2013, but they let him go after the next season, and he hasn't played in the NHL since. He now plays in Finland's league.

Also on this day, Ivan Turina (no middle name) is born in Zagreb, Croatia. A goalkeeper, he starred for hometown club Dinamo Zagreb, helping them win 6 league titles and 5 Croatian Cups, including League and Cup "Doubles" in 1998 and 2007. He then played in Solna, Sweden for AIK. He died in 2013, from a previously unknown heart defect, only 22 years old.

October 3, 1981: The Milwaukee Brewers and the Montreal Expos clinch their 1st-ever postseason appearances. Milwaukee beats the Detroit Tigers 2-1 at Milwaukee County Stadium to wrap up the 2nd-half title in the AL East, while Montreal edges the Mets 5-4 at Shea Stadium to win the NL East's 2nd playoff spot.

For the 1st time ever, a postseason game will be played outside the U.S. For the 1st time since 1959, a 163rd game will be played in Milwaukee.

Also on this day, Zlatan Ibrahimović (no middle name) is born in Malmö, Sweden to a Muslim Bosniak father and a Croatian Catholic mother. Judging by his attitude, though Zlatan (usually called by just his first name, sometimes "Ibra") is "a self-made man who worships his creator."

In terms of trophies won, the striker is one of the most successful soccer players of his generation. With Ajax Amsterdam, he won 2 League titles. With Juventus of Turin, Italy, he won 2 League titles, though both were revoked due to a scandal. (He had nothing to do with it, but he did benefit from it.) With another Italian club, Internazionale Milano, he won 3 League titles. With Barcelona, he won another League title. With Inter's rivals A.C. Milan, he won another League title. And with his current club, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), he won 4 straight League titles, and in 2015 also the Coupe de France and the Coupe de la Ligue, the 1st-ever French domestic Treble. So that's 13 League titles in a span of 16 seasons.

But while his undeniable talent, even at age 35, is the reason teams keep acquiring him, there's a reason why teams keep letting him go, and it's not because they need the money. (The clubs involved are all among the wealthiest in the world.) And it's not because he misses 5 shots for every goal he scores. It's because he's a first-class jerk. He's known to have purposely injured 6 different teammates in training, and 5 opponents in games. He got into a shouting match with Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola and threw a box across the room. He constantly berates referees, and has especially criticized those in France.

In March 2015, he called France "this shit country." After the season, they sold him to Manchester United, pretty much the only club that both could afford him and would still have him, not caring about his attitude, because their entire club has that attitude.

At this point, only Man U fans and the kind of fanboys who follow a player from team to team (you know, the kind who were Cleveland Cavaliers fans until 2010, then Miami Heat fans until 2014, now Cavs fans again, all because of LeBron James), still like him.

Even Swedes don't like him much, and it's not because he's an ethnic Yugoslav: The national team has won nothing with him, getting no closer than the Round of 16 at the 2006 World Cup. While they qualified for Euro 2008 and Euro 2012 mainly because of his goals, they didn't even make the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, and crashed out of Euro 2016 in the Group Stage. This led to his fanboys to say, "It won't be a World Cup without Zlatan." Tell that to the Spanish (2010) and the Germans (2014).

October 3, 1982: On the last day of the regular season, the Brewers celebrate their AL East title-clinching victory -- their 1st-ever postseason berth in a full 162-game season -- at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, after beating the Orioles, 10-2, to edge the O's by 1 game in the final standings. Robin Yount hits 2 home runs and a triple, and former Dodger ace Don Sutton is the winning pitcher.

The O's had been 4 games down with 5 to play, and had won 4 straight, including 3 over the Brewers, to forge a tie after 161 games, but the Brewers did their jobs. This turns out to be the only full-season Division title the Brew Crew ever won in the AL. (They have since won one in the NL.)

The 51,642 hometown fans, although disappointed by the results, stay after the game, and give retiring manager Earl Weaver a heartfelt, tremendous 45-minute series of ovations for his 15-year tenure as the Birds' skipper. He would, however, return in 1985 and '86, but it would not be the same.

October 3, 1983: Frederico Chaves Guedes is born in Téofilo Otoni, Minas Gerais, Brazil. In the tradition of Brazilian soccer, he is known by a short nickname, in his case a shortening of his first name: Fred.

The striker starred with América Mineiro and Cruzeiro in Belo Horizonte, won back-to-back French titles with Olymique Lyonnais in 2006 and '07, and has played for Rio de Janeiro club Fluminense since 2009, winning the League in 2012. He's also helped Brazil win the 2007 Copa America and the 2013 Confederations Cup, although he's 0-for-2 in World Cups, getting knocked out in the 2006 Quarterfinals and the 2014 Semifinals (the latter on home soil), and wasn't even picked for Brazil in 2010.

There are at least 2 other Brazilian footballers who have played under the name "Fred." One, Helbert Frederico Carreiro da Silva, has starred in the U.S. for D.C. United, and is now with the Philadelphia Union. The other, Frederico Rodrigues Santos, stars for Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk.

October 3, 1984: Soccer Bowl '84 is played at Varsity Stadium in Toronto. Playing Soccer Bowl '83 in Canada (albeit all the way across the country in Vancouver) didn't help the Toronto Blizzard the year before, and playing on their actual home field doesn't help them now, as they lose 3-2 to the Chicago Sting.

The Blizzard -- who won the North American Soccer League title in 1976, as "Toronto Metros-Croatia" -- trailed 2-0 after 70 minutes, but scored twice in 3 minutes to equalize. But Patricia "Pato" Margetic, the Argentine striker who'd scored the Sting's 2nd goal, scores in the 82nd to win it.

Attendance is just 16,842. No one knows it yet, but this is the last game that the original NASL will ever hold.

The Sting, who had also won the title in 1981, had already announced that this would be their last season in the League, as they had already been admitted to the Major Indoor Soccer League -- which played soccer on hockey rinks covered with artificial turf, with the boards ensuring the ball wouldn't go out of bounds, resulting in higher scores. It was pinball soccer. It was exciting, but it was a bastardized version of the sport, something that no one would have called "The Beautiful Game."

Clive Toye, who built the New York Cosmos' dynasty, and also the Sting's '81 champs, was now running the Blizzard, and made postgame comments that Sting coach Willy Roy and striker Karl-Heinz Granitza -- both Germans, and the latter would later honor his Chicago experience by running a bar named State Street in Berlin -- were "cheats," and that the Sting were "unworthy champions."

During the ensuing off-season, NASL President Howard Samuels died, and Toye was named interim President. Then the Cosmos folded, due to striker/part-owner Giorgio Chinaglia's mismanagement. Without the flagship franchise, the League was doomed, no matter what Toye did, and he did try. But when the time came to prepare for a 1985 season, only 2 teams -- the Blizzard and the Minnesota (formerly Fort Lauderdale) Strikers -- were still interested in playing, and the League folded. North America was without a "first division" in soccer for 11 years.

October 3, 1985: The Mets lose to the Cardinals, 4-3 at Busch Memorial Stadium. Keith Hernandez goes 5-for-5 with 2 RBIs against his former team, but it's not enough, as Danny Cox and the St. Louis bullpen outpitch Rick Aguilera and Roger McDowell. This puts the Cards up by 2 games in the NL East with 3 to play.

It does not look good for the Mets, who had hung with the Cards all season long. Essentially, this game decided the Division, and possibly also the Pennant.

Meanwhile, the Yankees beat the Brewers 3-0 at Yankee Stadium, while the Toronto Blue Jays lose to the Tigers 2-0. The Yankees are still alive in AL East race as they head to Toronto for a deciding series, 3 games back. They must sweep all 3 games to force a Playoff; if the Jays win any of them, they win their 1st Division title.

Also on this day, Courtney Lee (no middle name) is born in Indianapolis. The guard reached the NBA Finals with the 2009 Orlando Magic, played the next season with the Nets, and will play this season for the Knicks.

October 3, 1986, 30 years ago: Vince DiMaggio dies of cancer in Los Angeles. He was 74. The eldest of 9 siblings, and 3 to reach the majors, he wasn't as good as his brothers Joe and Dom turned out to be, but he had a good career, winning the 1939 NL Pennant (opposing Joe in the World Series) and the 1940 World Series with the Reds, and being named to 2 All-Star Games with the Pirates.

Allegedly, Joe didn't speak to Vince for many years, due to a perceived slight. Vince once said, "If I could hit like Joe, and he could talk like me, we'd make a hell of a guy."

On the same day, Jackson Arley Martínez Valencia is born in Quibdó, Colombia. The soccer striker is usually known as Jackson Martínez, but is not related to baseball legend Reginald Martinez Jackson. 

He won a Colombian league title with Independiente Medellin in 2009, and a Portuguese league title with Porto in 2012. Many fans of North London club Arsenal were incensed that, having no striker better than France's Olivier Giroud, their club didn't pursue Martínez. Giroud is far better than Martínez, who's 4 days younger than Giroud and far less accomplished, at both the club and the international level.

Martínez now plays for Guangzhou Evergrande in the Chinese league -- one of those leagues (America's MLS is another) that formerly great players go to when age catches up with them and they need one last big payday, even though he's hardly an old player.

October 3, 1989: Nathaniel Joseph Montana is born in the San Francisco suburb of Santa Clara, California. It couldn't have been easy being the son of Joe Montana, despite starring at quarterback for the legendary football program at suburban San Francisco Catholic school De La Salle.

Nate Montana went to his father's alma mater, Notre Dame, then to Pasadena City College (where Jackie Robinson went before UCLA), then back to Notre Dame, then the University of Montana, and finally West Virginia Wesleyan College, a Division II school. At both Notre Dame and Montana, he got busted for underage drinking. He is now out of football.


October 3, 1990: George Brett strikes again. He pinch-hits a 5th-inning RBI sacrifice fly, and then singles in the 7th inning, to end the season with the batting title with a .329 batting average. Having already won in '76 as stated earlier, and having batted .390 in 1980 to forge the highest single-full-season batting average any player has had since 1941, he is the only player to win batting crowns in 3 different decades.

Also on this day, Stefano Casiraghi is killed in a speedboat race off the coast of Monaco. He was only 30 years old. He had first gained fame as a businessman, but, a year before his death, won the World Championship of offshore speedboat racing, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

He leaves behind a wife, Princess Caroline of Monaco, and 3 children: Son Andrea, now 32, a teacher and charity fundraiser; daughter Charlotte, 30, a magazine editor and competitive equestrienne; and son Pierre, 29, now involved in his father's former business ventures.

Also on this day, The reunification of Germany takes effect: The Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and the formerly Communist "German Democratic Republic" (East Germany) are reunited.

This improved the combined nation's chances in the Olympics: East Germany had, along with the U.S. and the Soviet Union, been one of the top medal-winning countries from 1968 until 1988, and West Germany had been just a level below. Since then, the combined German team has done better than the split-up Russians, and nearly as well as America and China.

Surprisingly, this has had less of an effect in soccer. East Germany had only made the World Cup once, in 1974 -- and beat West Germany, on West German soil, in the Group Stage. But West Germany had gone on to win the Cup. From 1954 to 1990, West Germany had reached 6 World Cup Finals (including the last 3), winning 3 of them. From 1994 onward, the possible addition of East German players hasn't helped Die Mannschaft much: They reached the Final in 2002 but lost, lost on home soil in the Semifinal in 2006, and lost in the Semifinal again in 2010, before finally winning in 2014.

Toni Kroos, a midfielder then with Bayern Munich but soon to be transferred to Real Madrid, was on the 2014 Germany team, and he became the 1st native of East Germany ever to win the World Cup. He will likely also be the last, as anyone born in East Germany right before unification in 1990 will be 28 right before the 2018 tournament.

October 3, 1992: At the Astrodome, the Houston Astros retire the Number 25 of former outfielder Jose Cruz Sr. and the Number 33 of former pitcher Mike Scott. They also beat the Dodgers 3-2, when Mike Simms singles home Craig Biggio in the bottom of the 13th inning.

Also on this day, Rutgers University has the largest crowd it has ever had for what has been designated as a "home game" for them, 72,203 at Giants Stadium at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

The game is played there, instead of on campus at Rutgers Stadium in Piscataway, 36 miles away, because they're playing arch-rival Penn State, who bring so many fans, and attract so many fans from New Jersey and New York City, that it feels more like a home game for them. Joe Paterno's Nittany Lions beat the Scarlet Knights 38-24.

October 3, 1993: Despite winning 103 games, the Giants are eliminated from the NL West race when the Dodgers derail their Division dreams, 12-1 at Dodger Stadium. (Not that this counts as the Dodgers' revenge for October 3, 1951, or even October 3, 1962.) Catcher Mike Piazza, who will be named the NL’s Rookie of the Year, hits 2 home runs in the game.

The Braves, who will be moved over to the NL East the next season, win 104 games to complete an amazing comeback, having been 10 games back on July 22 and 7 1/2 games back on August 22, before winning 22 of their last 27.

The Giants won 103 games, and still didn't make the postseason. (The record is 104, for the 1942 Dodgers, as the Cardinals won 106.) Since the Wild Card began the next season (well, the one after, due to the Strike of '94), the most games any team has won without officially making the Playoffs is 96, the 1999 Cincinnati Reds. (They lost a play-in game with the Mets, but that is officially counted as a regular season game.)

On the same day, the Indians play their last game at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, with Mel Harder, who won the 1st game there in 1932, throwing out a ceremonial last pitch. No such luck for the Tribe this time, as they lose 4-0 to the Chicago White Sox.

And the last game is played at Arlington Stadium, with Nolan Ryan of the Texas Rangers and George Brett of the Royals, both retiring, exchanging the lineup cards. Again, the visiting team spoils the fun, the Royals winning 4-1. So, if you're either George Brett or a Giants fan (except this year), October 3 is a good day.

On the same day, the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Boston Red Sox 6-3 at Fenway Park. Robin Yount of the Brewers plays the last game in his Hall of Fame career.

October 3, 1995: Former football star, sportscaster and actor O.J. Simpson is found not guilty of the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman. A little more than a year later, in a civil suit, a jury will find him liable for their deaths.

On the same day, Tony Pena homers to left field in the 13th inning, to give the Indians a 5-4 win over the Red Sox in Game 1 of the AL Division Series at Jacobs Field. It is Cleveland's 1st postseason game victory since 1948 -- 47 years.

Of more interest to Yankee Fans, after 14 seasons, Don Mattingly finally plays in a postseason game.
The Yankees win, 9-6, in front of a rapturous crowd of 57,178, the largest paid attendance in the 33-season history of the post-renovation original Yankee Stadium. David Cone gives up 2 home runs to Ken Griffey Jr., but is backed up by home runs by Wade Boggs and Ruben Sierra. Mattingly goes 2-for-4 with an RBI.

October 3, 1997: The Carolina Hurricanes play their 1st home game after moving from Hartford, the 1st NHL game played in the Carolinas. They lose to the Pittsburgh Penguins, 4-3 at the Greensboro Coliseum.

They will play 2 seasons in Greensboro before moving to Raleigh and the arena now known as the PNC Arena. As, essentially, a lame-duck team, crowds at the 21,000-seat Coliseum are sparse: A photo shown in Sports Illustrated showed a fan holding up a sign saying "Great seats available -- heck, great sections available."

October 3, 1998: The Broward County Civic Arena opens in Sunrise, Florida, outside Fort Lauderdale. The 1st event is a Celine Dion concert. The NHL's Florida Panthers moved in, and it remains their home.

The arena's name is soon changed to the National Car Rental Center. It becomes the Office Depot Center in 2002, the BankAtlantic Center in 2005, and the BB&T Center in 2012. If you're keeping track: That's 5 names in 18 years.

October 3, 1999: In the final regular-season sporting event ever to be played at the Astrodome, Mike Hampton of the Astros raises his record to a whopping 22-4, as the 'Stros beat the Dodgers, 9-4. The victory clinches the NL Central Division title, as the Astros finish 1 game ahead of the Reds.


October 3, 2000: St. Louis rookie starter Rick Ankiel sets a modern day major league record by uncorking 5 wild pitches in the 3rd inning of Game 1 of the NLDS at Busch Memorial Stadium. He joins Bert Cunningham of the Buffalo Bisons, who accomplished the same feat in the 1st inning in an 1890 Players League contest. Despite the embarrassing display, the Cardinals still defeat the Atlanta Braves, 7-5.

Ankiel was a great pitching prospect, but, soon, his pitching days will be over. He will, however, be converted into an outfielder. Hey, it worked for the Cardinals when they did it for Stan Musial 60 years earlier.

Despite injuries that forced him to miss 2002, '03, most of '04, '05, '06, and most of '07, Ankiel was still playing in the major leagues in 2013. In 2008, he batted .264, hit 25 homers and had 71 RBIs. He only pitched 11 games after his 2000 postseason nightmare, but finished with a .240 lifetime batting average (not bad at all for someone who started as a pitcher). Although he was injured when the Cards lost the World Series in 2004 and won it in 2006, he reached the postseason again with the Cards in '09 and the Braves the next season. Now 37 years old, he works as a counselor in the Washington Nationals' organization.

October 3, 2001: Barry Bonds walks 3 times, breaking Babe Ruth's major league record of 170 bases on balls in a season, established in 1923. Astros' reliever Nelson Cruz gives up the historic walk in the 6th, and the Giants left fielder will finish the season with 177 walks.

October 3, 2002: Bruce Paltrow dies of cancer in Rome. He was only 58 years old. One of the top TV producers of the 1970s and '80s, he created and produced the greatest TV show ever made about sports, The White Shadow, about a white coach of a mostly-black high school basketball team in Los Angeles. He also produced St. Elsewhere, set in a Boston hospital.

He leaves behind his wife, actress Blythe Danner; his daughter, actress Gwyneth Paltrow; and his son, director Jake Paltrow.

October 3, 2004: The last day of baseball's regular season is a sad one, and not just for the 22 teams that didn't make the Playoffs. For 2 reasons: One planned, one not.

The unplanned reason: Blue Jays television announcer John Cerutti is found dead in his SkyDome hotel room. The death of the 44-year old Albany native, who had pitched for the Jays and the Tigers, is due to a previously undiagnosed heart condition. He pitched his way to a career record of 49-43, was the winning pitcher in the 1st game at the SkyDome (now the Rogers Centre) in 1989, and pitched for the Jays in that season's ALCS.

The planned reason: At the site of the franchise's 1st regular season game in 1969, the Montreal Expos, who are scheduled to move to Washington, D.C. next season, play the last game in their 36-year history, losing to the Mets at Shea Stadium, 8-1. A crowd of 33,569 attends the memorial service, but most are rooting for the Mets.

The Expos' last starting lineup: Brad Wilkerson, 1B; Jamey Carroll, 2B; Val Pascucci, RF; Terreml Sledge, LF; Ryan Church, CF; Einar Diaz, C; Brendan Harris, 3B; Josh Labandeira, SS; and John Patterson, P. Patterson is the losing pitcher, while Tom Glavine wins it.

David Wright and Todd Zeile hit home runs for the Mets. The last play in Expo history is a groundout to 2nd base, Kazuo Matsui to 1st baseman Mike Piazza, induced by reliever Bartolome Fortunato. That last Expo batter is a defensive replacement in center field, who will go on to join the Mets and make Shea history in another way, with his glove: Endy Chavez.

October 3, 2006, 10 years ago: Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria fires his manager, even though he would go on to win NL Manager of the Year: Joe Girardi. He replaces Girardi with Braves 3rd base coach Fredi Gonzalez.

October 3, 2010: Legendary sportswriter Maury Allen dies of lymphoma at age 78. He had written brilliantly about baseball, particularly as the Yankee beat reporter for the New York Post from 1961 to 1988.

He was one of the new breed of writer than veteran baseball scribes derisively called "The Chipmunks," and, like many of them, were hard on Roger Maris when he successfully pursued Babe Ruth's single-season home run record in 1961. He later apologized to Maris for this, and, knowing Maris was dying in 1984 and '85, atoned for his own previous sins by writing Roger Maris: A Man for All Seasons, which stood for years as the definitive Maris biography.

He also wrote biographies of baseball stars (I'm listing these in chronological order of the players' tenures, except for the last one) Joe DiMaggio, Jackie Robinson, Casey Stengel, Billy Martin, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, Lou Piniella, Ron Guidry, Jim Rice, and, just before his death, Dixie Walker. He was also the "as told to go" for the autobiographies of Yankee legend Whitey Ford and early 1960s baseball celebrity Bo Belinsky, a biography of Jets legend Joe Namath, and wrote books about New York's 2 most beloved single-season baseball teams, the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers and the 1969 Mets.

October 3, 2012: The greatest moment in Washington Nationals "Racing Presidents" history. After getting off to a slow start in the regular-season finale against Philadelphia, Teddy Roosevelt finally beats George Washington, Abe Lincoln, and Tom Jefferson to the finish line, winning the race for the 1st time since it made its debut at RFK Stadium in 2006.

The victory, the mascot's 1st after 525 losses, is assured when a green furry creature, who bears a striking resemblance to a phony Phillie Phanatic, waylays the other 3 Presidential contenders in right field.

On the same day, in other dubious baseball action, Ranger center fielder Josh Hamilton's 4th inning-error opens the floodgates that allow the A's to erase a 5-run deficit when they score 6 times, en route to their 12-5 victory at the Oakland Coliseum.

The A's had been 13 games out of 1st place in the AL West on June 30, and 6 games out on August 25. But their hot streak and the Rangers' nosedive leaves the A's as Division Champions, and puts the Rangers into the new 1-game AL Wild Card contest, against the Orioles.

This comes after the Rangers' pathetic performance in the 2010 World Series and their embarrassing chokejob in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. They do not yet have the choke reputation of, say, the Red Sox, the Cubs, or the Indians — but they should.

Two Indians legends each play their last major league game -- but neither for the Indians. The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Orioles 4-1 at Tropicana Field, and Jim Thome goes 0-for-4 as the O's DH. The Toronto Blue Jays beat the Minnesota Twins 2-1 at the Rogers Centre, and Omar Vizquel, at 45 the oldest man ever to play shortstop in the major leagues, and the last remaining player from the 1980s, goes 1-for-3 for the Jays.

In positive baseball news, Miguel Cabrera clinches the AL Triple Crown, becoming the 1st player to do so since 1967 when Carl Yastzemski accomplished the feat with Boston. The Tigers 3rd baseman and eventual MVP leads the circuit with a .330 batting average, 44 home runs and 139 RBIs.

October 3, 2013: Sergei Belov dies of heart disease in Perm, Russia. He was 69. A shooting guard at CSKA Moscow (the Red Army team), he was the star of the Soviet basketball team that won the 1972 Olympic Gold Medal. He was not related to Alexander Belov, who scored the winning basket.

In 1980, he closed his playing career, and was invited to light the Olympic Cauldron at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics in Moscow. In 1991, FIBA, the governing body for international basketball, named him Europe's greatest player ever. In 1992, he was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

October 3, 2015: Gary Sanchez makes his major league debut, on the next-to-last day of the regular season. Wearing Number 73, he pinch-hits for Greg Bird, against Oliver Drake, in the bottom of the 9th inning of the 1st game of a rain-forced doubleheader. He hits a weak popup that is caught by 3rd baseman Manny Machado. It has little effect on the outcome, as the Orioles beat the Yankees 9-2.

The Yankees were hoping he'd turn into a good player, but no one had any idea that he would have so big an impact as soon as the late Summer of 2016.

Also on this day, in a preseason game, Raffi Torres of the San Jose Sharks is assessed a match penalty for a late, illegal check to the head of Jakob Silfverberg of the Anaheim Ducks. Torres was suspended a record-shattering 41 games by the league, half of the regular season. He forfeited $440,860.29 in salary, which was deposited into the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund. While the record for longest suspension is held by Billy Coutu, who was suspended for life in 1927, Torres holds the distinction of the longest non-lifetime ban.

Torres did not appeal the suspension, and apologized to Silfverberg. Sharks general manager Doug Wilson supported the suspension, saying Torres' hit was "unacceptable and has no place in our game." The left wing was sent down to the minors upon his return, then traded to his hometown Maple Leafs, then released. At 35 and tainted, his career may be over.

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